House panel hearing looking into threat of dirty bombs entering U.S. ports

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee is holding a hearing Tuesday about how to best prevent and respond to dirty bombs that may arrive in U.S. ports.

The hearing will focus on ocean transportation, which is used by the U.S. to import and export approximately 95 percent of cargo tonnage. Cargo enters 361 U.S. ports before linking to a large transportation network that is spread throughout the U.S.

This transportation system is important to the U.S. economy, and it is also a potential conduit for terrorist activities, though the Department of Homeland Security has said that there is little chance of terrorists unleashing weapons of mass destruction in the U.S. via shipping containers.

Officials insist that they must remain aware of a terrorist attack, the consequences of the kind of attack and how to best respond to it. The potential consequences are vast, including loss of lives, loss of cargo and economic interruptions like disruptions of manufacturing and production.

American Association of Port Authorities Security Committee Chairman Joe Lawless is among those slated to appear at the hearing, titled “Prevention of and Response to the Arrival of a Dirty Bomb at a U.S. Port.” 

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U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

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